Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Camping makes us smile, no matter where we are

I don’t know how it happens that a week can slip away before I realize it. But here it is Saturday morning, almost afternoon, and I still haven’t posted a smile for Trent’s Weekly Smile compilation. If you haven’t read his weekly smile post from Monday yet you should. He has the most beautiful foxglove flowering over there.

So anyway. Katie and I have been sleeping in the tent in our backyard almost every night for the past week. It’s been beautifully cool with clear skies and she loves it, even though some nights I am kind of cold.

Katie here, this is my “I’m going camping!” smile!

She starts prancing around the back door and whining as soon as the sun even begins to think about heading for the horizon. I’m never ready to go to bed that early and sometimes I just ignore her, in which case she’ll sigh in disappointment and go to sleep somewhere else.

Once I’m ready to head to bed I change into several layers of clothing, grab her leash and wake her up. When she sees me dressed in sweats and holding her leash she gets so excited and she happily pulls me across the back lawn to our tent.

Silly girl.

But it’s not just her, I’m pretty happy to be sleeping outside too. She gets me up every morning between 3 and 4:30 and we head back to the house where she settles in to snooze with her dad and I go back out to the tent to finish my own sleeping. Those three hours of early morning sleep are usually my best sleep each night.

Hey mama, are you awake yet? Cause I’d like to go pee please.

Who’d have thought that sleeping in a tent on a narrow sleeping pad would garner a great night of sleep!

Katie and I put the tent away yesterday afternoon in preparation for a few days of bad weather. They predicted 60 mph winds and potential hail. Of course, as usual, the weather people got overly excited and all we got was a little rain. But it is going to be much warmer this week, so we’ll probably stay inside with the air conditioning for a few days. But when we get the tent back out both Katie and I are going to smile!

Guaranteed.

Me and my tent!


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I bet you miss me

Katie here. I know it’s be quite a long time since I’ve visited my mama’s blog. It’s not that I haven’t had plenty of stuff to talk about. I’m a sheltie. I always have something to talk about.

Wonder what’s over there?

Nope, it’s all mama’s fault. See she got a new ‘puter and she’s been trying to figure it out. Mostly she’s had a problem getting her pictures to download to the new laptop, and mama said I couldn’t talk about our latest walk in the woods unless she could add the pictures she took.

Of course.

After all, what’s a blog post without pictures of me? What? You say you’ve seen plenty of posts that weren’t about me? Huh. That just boggles my mind.

Ahem.

So a couple of weeks ago mama said it was nice and cool outside, maybe in the 50s (10 C), and did I want to go for a walk in the woods? Silly mama. She keeps forgetting I’m a sheltie. Of course I wanted to go for a walk in the woods!

Mama said she was going to drive to the back of the park cause it was a weekend and there were too many people at the front. But the road was closed where she was gonna go, so she parked in a different spot. I should have started worrying right there.

You can rent this cabin. Mama wants to find out how.

We explored a bit and found a trail. Mama figured we’d walk along it for awhile and then turn around and go back the way we’d come.

But it was so pretty, and I was so happy we just kept on going.

And eventually the trail turned back in the direction we’d come so mama figured it would be shorter just to follow it back out to the road and then we’d just walk up the road a bit to where we were parked.

Yea. Good plan mama.

Cause, as you guessed, that trail didn’t go entirely back the way we had come. No it wound around another little lake and up and down hills. Mama thought we were still going in the direction of the road, she was keeping the sun over her right shoulder, but she had no idea how much longer it would be before we saw the road. She did, however, know it was a long way back if we turned around.

Mama likes light on stuff in the woods.

I, however, was blissfully oblivious to the whole dilemma.

Luckily mama had brought me lots of water and I drank it every time she offered it to me. I drank a lot, but mama didn’t, she was afraid she’d need it for me later. She’s a good mama, other then her propensity for getting lost.

Finally, a long time later mama caught a glimpse of the road through the trees and she hauled me over there even though that’s not where the trail went. I tried to tell her we were supposed to be following the trail, but she said she was the mama and we weren’t going that way.

Mama said we were getting our feet wet. I would like to say I did not. Silly mama.

But once we got out to the road mama wasn’t 100% sure which way we should go to get pack to our car. She used the sun again to make a guess, she figured we weren’t that far, and she had a 50% chance of guessing right.

She began to doubt herself after we walked up and down hills, in and out of shade and the road just kept going. She didn’t think we had walked that far in the woods, and she was worried about me walking in the sun. If she had guessed wrong we were going to have to walk all this way back and then who knows how much further. Still…there was no proof, yet, that we were going in the wrong direction.

So we kept on walking. Mama would stop when we got to shade and give me more water. I still thought we were on a grand adventure but mama was getting stressed.

Me sitting on a big log. Cause it made mama happy.

Finally a red car went zooming by, and then came back the other way in a few minutes. The lady driver wanted to know where the beach was. (The beach is way up at the front of the park, and mama knew we were parked way at the back of the park.) So mama told the lady the beach was up where the guard shack was…and then she asked, just to be certain, if the lady was currently now facing the front of the park? The lady said yes…so we knew we were still walking toward the back of the park.

We walked some more, up and down more hills, around more curves, each time mama thought she’d see the parking lot where we parked. But she didn’t see anything but more trees. Finally we came to a fork in the road and she had no idea which way to walk. She didn’t remember driving by a fork when we first drove through the park.

As we were standing there trying to figure out what to do a park truck drove by! Mama flagged that young man right down and explained we’d been walking for a long time and we needed to know if we were going in the right direction, toward the very end of the road. He looked confused, then said yes we were.

So we started to walk again. And do you know what? Around the very next corner, only a few yards away, there was the end of the road and our car! Mama was so relieved.

Me? I thought the whole thing was a big adventure. Mama was proud of how well I did on a long walk. And our way out of the park mama stopped at the place we usually walk and took a picture of the map so she could figure out where we had been.

Yep, we were in the woods for a long time.

She’s been studying that map and she still has no idea. My advice for mama is maybe we should just stay on the trail we already know. And to always bring lots of water. And maybe bug spray.

Just sayin.

Mama says to let you know that her new ‘puter doesn’t have her photo editing software on it yet. So these pictures from our walk are straight out of the camera. And to top it all off WordPress changed their format and she had to figure that out too. So far she can’t figure out how to change the size of the images so they’re all huge!

Mama says it’s almost too much that her laptop and her blog software has all changed at the same time. After all, she says, change is hard.

See you all later. Just telling you about this adventure has worn me out! I need a nap!


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Oh Canada!

What’s on Canada’s Lake Superior shore you may wonder. Well, I can’t show you everything, it’s a big lake, and a long shore after all, but I can show you a few of the things that caught my attention.

First of all, there are a lot of waterfalls, most of them huge. I liked the big vistas…

Kakabeka Falls, near Thunder Bay

…but I really enjoyed trying to capture some of the smaller details, like these shelves of rock with water pouring over.

Water cascading.

Some people enjoy seeing the water smoothed, other people like seeing the droplets.

Another view of cascading water.

I like waterfalls both ways.

Also near Thunder Bay is a memorial park honoring Terry Fox, the young man who was running a marathon a day, across Canada, to raise money for cancer research.

Looking out over Thunder Bay. Forever young.

The park marks the spot he had to stop, back in 1980 when his cancer returned.

One day we were driving through Thunder Bay when I noticed the sun on a red ship moored out in the bay.

Wondering if the sun will wake the gentle sleeping giant.

Only later, looking through images, did I realize that in the background I had accidentally captured the sleeping giant. Do you see him? I almost cut off his head!

Here’s another view of the sleeping giant. Way up there is where we watched the sun set one evening, you saw those images in an earlier post.

The giant sleeps on.

Not far from Thunder Bay we stopped at another fur trading post, Fort William, and learned more about how the fur trading business worked.

There was another huge information center.

Notice the porch pillar is a tree sitting on a rock.

With lots of beautiful art inside.

Wood carvings inside.

And then you could take the shuttle or walk through a beautiful woods to get to the fort.

A beautiful walk, though we took the bus back to our car after our long tour of the fort.

Once there we were taken on a guided tour.

Trading modern goods for valuable furs.

There was a hierarchy in the business, among the owners or stockholders, and those that went into the wild to trade pots and pans for furs, and those that worked in the post.

The dining room. Depending on your rank you got to sit in different areas of the room.

It was interesting to realize that, in the end, it was the fashion industry that drove all this activity. The furs were sent back East to be made into felted hats, to edge beautiful gowns, or to be made into coats for the wealthy and powerful.

After our official tour we were allowed to wander through the rest of the buildings inside the fort.

Canoe maintenance building.

Lots of interesting places to explore, all labeled in three languages, English, French and the Native American language of the Ojibwa.

Three ways to say the same thing.

After we left the Thunder Bay area we stopped at an amethyst mine. Apparently there’s a relatively small area of Canada that has amethyst.

Explaining how the stones grown in fissures in granite.

This family has owned the land for several decades and gives short tours to explain how amethyst grows. It was pretty.

Pretty in purple.

But I was just as attracted to the old trucks parked on the land.

These guys have paid their dues.

We still had a long way to go, so we moved on…back along the shore of Lake Superior, with it’s beautiful blue water and rocky or sandy beaches.

Miles of beach, endless water and sky.

Some of it is hilly, small mountains really, and along the way we came around a curve to see this:

It looked like a toy, the bright colors of the train against the green of the mountain and the brilliant blue of Lake Superior.

It looked like a toy train going around the mountain. Luckily there was a scenic overlook right there so I got to capture the sun glinting off all those cars of containers.

Oh, I can’t forget to show you the giant Canada goose…

Located at an information center. Make sure you stop in when you go by.

… and Sandy Beach where a group of seven artists used to paint.

A lovely spot to paint.

And the wild blueberry farm we drove through, the berry plants already turning red in preparation for fall.

The colors were gorgeous.

And of course I can’t forget to tell you about the pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park.

We figured a short walk down to the shore would be easy. We were wrong.

400 meters. A piece of cake. Unfortunately no one told us we’d start looking like the dog and return looking like the pictograph.

It was a very rocky, uneven trail. One way down went between these huge granite cliffs. It was sort of like walking down a natural stone staircase in a grand home.

Going down.

Once we finally got down to the shore, covered in huge slabs of slippery granite, we found a few pictographs.

Ancient images.

There were more, and some larger, further along the ledge, but we didn’t want to risk sliding into the cold lake, especially with no easy way of getting back out!

Not going any further than this!

Then we started the long trek back to the car, following the other path which was strewn with boulders.

It was a long, difficult climb back up to the car.

Maybe if the lake level is down this would be a fun thing to do again. Or not.

After that adventure we were ready to stop, but we kept driving until we got to Sault St. Marie, Onterio where we finally rested for our last night in Canada. We loved our trip around Lake Superior. Who knew that was a thing?

I’m sure I missed telling you about some of the sights, but that just means you’ll have to come on up and do it for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find even more delightful things on your adventure.

If nothing else, there will always be the waterfalls!

September is the perfect time to explore Ontario!

If I were you I’d put Ontario on your bucket list.


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Almost to Canada

Well, on my last travel post I thought we were ready to cross the border into Canada, but as I sorted through photos I realized there was still plenty to see in Minnesota.

Enjoying Lake Superior on a warm summer afternoon.

Unless this post gets really long there’s no way I can get you through Minnesota and all the way across the northern shore of Lake Superior and back to the border at Michigan.

Everywhere there are ships loading and unloading.

Let’s just see how far we get.

I didn’t want to move on without telling you about Gooseberry Falls, north of Duluth.

I was fascinated by the exposed tree roots as much as by the falling water.

There are a couple of sets of waterfalls, all of them were beautiful when we were there. You could walk on the rocks very near the falls if you wanted, or stay on the trail. The trail took you further down the river where you could get a view of all the falls at once.

Most waterfalls we saw have upper and lower falls.

And even further north is Grand Portage National Monument. We stopped there because we were expecting an historical monument. Maybe a marker.

Pretty impressive.

But there’s a beautiful information center…

One of the interior murals.

…and guided tours of the restored trading post.

Explaining the birch bark Indian shelters.

We explored the interiors of several buildings…

The kitchen and the dining room.

…and then the lake shore itself.

The gate down to the dock where boats full of goods would land.

I could have stayed out on the dock for the rest of the evening.

Such a beautiful evening. The clouds were perfect.

It was getting late and we were almost to the border, so reluctantly we moved on.

But wait! There was another set of waterfalls, on the Pigeon River, in the Grand Portage State Park. The river makes up the border between Minnesota in the United States and Ontario Canada. Should we stop? It was chilly and starting to rain. It was late in the evening and getting dark.

Of course we stopped.

There weren’t many people out there, but the walk was relatively short, maybe only half a mile back to the falls. We hurried as the rain came down harder.

The High Falls on the Pigeon River.

We could hear it before we saw it. The falls were magnificent, and we were glad we made the trek. The walk was on a paved path most of the way, not difficult at all, which made it easier for us to sprint back to the car.

Now we’re ready to head into Canada! But that will have to wait until the next post. I think that blogging while sleepy could be a problem.

And you know I’m all about safety. Stay tuned.

Surprise, there are more waterfalls in Canada!


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Weekly smile

Too much travel lately made me lose track of the weekly smile. It definitely wasn’t intentional, because I truly believe the world can use more smiles.

Just a little bit of pretty.

So today, when I remembered I hadn’t officially smiled in a couple weeks, I headed out to find you something to smile about.

I’d like some of these in my garden.

Sure I could have just given you the Canadian images, but those weren’t from this week. And even though looking at travel photos always makes me smile I figured I should find something new.

The place was abuzz.

Just about a mile up our country road is a corner filled with pyramid shaped goldenrod and dark purple asters. If I happen to go by when the sun is low I can’t help but be mesmerized.

There were tiny white asters too.

So I smiled a lot as I wandered in this little patch of pretty, even though my target for today’s smile was another place a few miles up the freeway.

A garden further up the road.

Yep, just a couple exits north of here is a swanky subdivision that I drove by yesterday on my way to buy birdseed.

A pretty fancy entrance.

I hadn’t been up there most of the summer, so I was amazed to see the entrance, full of huge canna lilies and tall dahlias heavy with blossoms.

Such amazing colors!

Somebody in this subdivision has a green thumb and a whole lot of money.

An end of summer burst of energy.

Still, it was stunning in an entirely different way than the little yellow and purple field near my home.

Every year, at the end of summer the annual gardens just glow. We could have a frost any time now, and all of this will be gone.

The tallest cannas I’ve ever seen.

So I was happy to capture a bit of it so that I can remember it during our long winter months.

I hope the colors made you smile too. What else made you smile this week? Write a post and link to Trent’s blog so we can all share smiles together!


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Ashland Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota

Katie has released the blog back to me so that I can get back to the travelogue…we circled Lake Superior in late August and early September. There was lots to see.

Sturgeon at the Duluth aquarium.

I could do a separate blog about each town we visited, but in the interest of saving some time, here are just a few images from a couple towns before we headed into Canada.

The side of the co-op was covered in a beautiful mosaic. This is only about a third of it.

Ashland was a town in Wisconsin that we were just driving through on our way to Duluth. We weren’t planning on stopping there, in fact the road moved north of downtown, following Lake Superior’s shore.

But we saw a sign that referenced ‘public art’ with an arrow pointing toward downtown, a block away, so we turned toward town. And we were astounded by our first glimpse of huge murals painted on the sides of many of the retails buildings.

The flowers complimented the beautiful mural.

At first we were just going to take a couple of pictures and move on. But then we realized how outstanding these pieces of art were and we parked and walked from one end of town to the other.

These women were real people who worked at the local diner back in the day.

I’m only showing you a fraction, they were all worthy of photos and I took pictures of all of them on the main street. I think there were a couple more further away.

Sometimes the murals melted right into the afternoon sky.

If you ever get the chance to visit Ashland I recommend giving yourself an hour or more. Plus there was an absolutely wonderful burger place right downtown. I had a really good bean burger.

Mural reflections.

I recommend visiting there too.

Then we got back on the road, heading to Duluth.

The bridge into Duluth.

Duluth is a working town, lots of ships coming and going. While we were at the aquarium we saw a big ore boat come into port. And no matter where we went ships were loading or unloading.

I liked the grey ship with the grey sand against the blue sky and water.

You saw the post about the mansion in town. There’s also Pattison State Park, named after the family that built the large house.

Upper falls. It’s hard to see just how big these falls are.

Lots of waterfalls there, and I was still figuring out settings to make the water smooth. Sometimes I got it right.

Working on my fluid water technique on the lower falls.

The first night we stayed on the top floor of a hotel with a view of the city.

Lake Superior, a ship, the iconic Duluth lift bridge and a cloud front. Perfect.

At night it was so pretty. I could show you that…but you can imagine it. I sort of liked this shot from our window.

Lots of color at night.

Just because it’s fun.

OK, OK…here’s the real night shot.

Took this one with my phone. Phones cameras are amazing.

The second night we stayed at a hotel down near the marina with a lovely view of the bridge and boats.

Early morning light on the marina.

Plus we got to drive across the famous lift bridge!

Crossing the bridge.

After two days of sightseeing in Duluth, visiting mansions, lighthouses, waterfalls, the aquarium and Lake Superior we moved on, heading north into Canada.

Pretty and peaceful at the Duluth aquarium.

I guess I’ll have to post at least one more travel related blog or I’ll have abandoned you at the border.

Roses in full bloom at the Leif Erikson Park at the edge of Duluth as we left town.

And there’s plenty to see in Canada.

Stay tuned.

Building on a building in Ashland.


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Exploring

Katie here. I know, I know, you’re expecting more photos of mama and daddy’s latest trip. Trust me, there are definitely more in mama’s files.

But geeze! Have you all forgotten about me?

Come walk with me in my backyard!

I’ve spent an awful lot of time at camp this summer. Don’t get me wrong, they treat me great there, but it’s not the same as being under mama’s feet. So since I’ve been home I’ve become something of a Velcro dog, never further than a foot or two from mama.

I kind of love my backyard!

Today I asked her if we could please take a tour around my yard, so I could make sure that everything was still copacetic out there, given I haven’t been around much, and mama said “OK baby girl! Let’s go explore the yard!”

Mama’s abstract of my fur.

We stopped at my zinnia garden which replaced my tomato garden of years past. I have to say I like tomatoes much better than silly flowers. I may be a Princess, but flowers don’t do a thing for me. Give me a ripe cherry tomato any time. Especially one I can pick off the vine for myself.

I ask you – how are these flowers better than tomatoes?

I’ve put in an Executive Order for tomatoes next year.

Way in the back of the yard daddy has been trimming trees. Do you see me in there?

I’m in there, hiding from mama!

How about now?

I’m right here mama!

Mama took so many pictures that I finally just laid down in the nice cool grass. No sense trying to rush her when she’s got that camera in her hand.

Yep, might as well take a break.

Mama also says to tell you her finger is healing. The bruising is all gone but the doctor says the bone hasn’t healed completely yet. It’s only been three weeks but mama says it feels like she’s been injured forever. She went to her first physical therapy session today.

She says it’s going to be a long fall.

I told mama that Fall is my favorite season!

Anyway, I enjoyed my wander around my yard. Things look OK, so I feel justified in taking a nap now. Never used to be that the backyard was equated with an adventure, but hey, I’m a senior, adventures can happen anywhere!

Yep, everything is good over here.

Talk later, mama says more travel photos are on deck next.

Zzzzzzzzzz…


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Hotel carpet recap

A family friend travels often for work and began posting what she called her “ugly hotel carpet” pictures a few years ago. I caught the bug and have posted on Facebook my version of ugly hotel carpets during some of my travels. This past two weeks several people mentioned that the carpet images might make a great collage.

So let’s see what WordPress will produce if I provide the images.